No one likes wasting food! I hate to throw out that leftover tomato paste, but I really only needed 2 tablespoons for this dinner. Or what about that one leftover sweet potato that no one wants? It’ll be cold and mushy in the morning and will probably just sit in the fridge until it’s time to throw it out. Maybe that loaf of bread you bought two weeks ago is too stale to make sandwiches with, or those bananas didn’t get eaten as quickly as you thought they would.
When I have to throw out leftovers or spoiled food, it feels like I’m tossing crisp dollar bills directly into the trash can. For the things that seem to spoil and end up wasted the most, I looked up the best ways to make use of them without having to throw them away.
1. Leftover sweet potatoes make me sad to throw out! They’re so delicious and healthy, but I just can’t seem to make myself eat one after it’s a day old. Thanks to the internet, I’ve discovered so many recipes to use mashed sweet potatoes so I don’t have to toss out the leftovers! My favorites are these Sweet Potato Pancakes with coconut. I don’t have access to goat cheese so I usually just use cream cheese instead. The creaminess really makes these pancakes such a treat! I can’t make pancakes any other way without thinking “I wish I had some sweet potatoes…”
2. Hold onto those coffee grounds! If you have a compost pile, you can add coffee grounds at 1 part coffee grounds to 3 parts everything else! You can also sprinkle a little bit into your garden to perk up some of those wilting plants. Only refresh the coffee grounds once the original coffee grounds have decomposed to keep the soil balanced. It’s a great way to reuse something that you would otherwise throw away!
3. Tomato paste. I have several recipes that only call for 1 tablespoon, but the can has about 6 tablespoons of tomato paste inside! More often than I’d like to admit, I don’t use up the rest of it before it gets moldy. A good way to save it is to freeze it! You can separate it into tablespoon-sized chunks and freeze them in a plastic baggie, or store them in a glass jar in the freezer. Whenever you have a recipe that calls for tomato paste, just pop out a cube instead of opening a whole new jar!
4. If you have leftover rice from dinner a few nights before, whip up an easy leftover fried rice dish! Even if the rice has flavorings or other vegetables, the strong spices and Asian twist will make the rice taste like a new dish! You can follow this recipe here if you’re not sure where to start. I usually start by tossing an egg or two into a non-stick pan to scramble. Once the egg is cooked all over, I toss in the leftover rice with a few splashes of olive oil or vegetable oil. The rice will heat up and start to “pop,” so now it’s time to add in vegetables, bean sprouts, peas, or onions. If you like your onions cooked, you might want to sautee them before you start. Add in a bit of chicken bouillon, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, hoisin sauce, or any seasonings that you might prefer. This is my favorite recipe for a quick fried rice – and everyone loves it!
5. Make croutons using stale bread! Don’t toss out that loaf of bread! It’s stale, but it’s not useless! Make delicious and savory chunks, slices, or cubes to add to salads, soups, stuffing or stews. Plus, they make my entire house smell like a delicious bakery anytime I get around to making them! It’s my favorite Saturday morning project! Check out a detailed how-to here! The strong scent of fresh herbs and the comforting smell of olive oil usually causes me to make soup for lunch just to be able to toss a few chunks of fresh croutons into it! It’s a wonderful way to reuse old bread.